Running with your dog is a great way to get pet exercise in!Leading an active lifestyle is an important part of staying healthy, and including the family dog is a fun way for both of you to stay fit. Providing your pet with regular exercise not only keeps their bodies strong, it also provides an outlet for stress and anxiety, reduces negative behaviors, and can deepen and strengthen the bond you share.

Running with your dog is a great option when it comes to getting exercise together, but there are safety concerns pet owners need to be aware of. Before you lace up your running shoes, check out these safety tips straight from The Pet Experts!

Running with Your Dog Safely

Just like with any other activity, planning and preparation are integral to a safe and enjoyable experience, and running with your dog is no different. The following ideas offer you ways to make sure you and your pup reap all the benefits of your run, and none of the dangers.

Do:

  • Start with a checkup – Always see your veterinarian for a wellness check prior to starting any high-impact exercise routine, such as running with your dog. Your veterinarian will assess your dog’s age, weight, size, and condition.
  • Watch the heat – Dogs can quickly succumb to dehydration and heatstroke on warm days. Carry a container that your dog can drink from, and stop for water breaks frequently to avoid dehydration. Exercise your dog in the early morning or evening hours to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Protect their paws – Whenever possible, stick to dirt or grass trails, which are softer, easier on the joints, and less likely to get hot enough to burn your dog’s paw pads. Always keep an eye out for rocks, sticks, glass, or other debris that could injure your pet.
  • Teach basic obedience – Having a dog who pulls, chases squirrels, or stops at every tree can be annoying and potentially dangerous while on a run. Make sure your dog is able to walk nicely on a leash and can follow basic obedience commands.

Don’t:

  • Run with a puppy – Regular running on hard surfaces before a dog’s joints and bones are fully formed can result in permanent damage. Depending on the breed, your dog’s growth plates may not be fully closed until they are between 1 and 2 years old. Talk with your veterinarian about the right age to begin a running program.
  • Run with a brachycephalic breed – Brachycephalic, or short-nosed, breeds like pugs or bulldogs have shortened airways that make breathing more difficult. Stick to walking when it comes to these pets.
  • Skip the warm-up – Heading straight into a workout can be tough on your dog’s joints and muscles, and yours, too. A few minutes of walking or slow jogging is all you need to get the blood flowing and the muscles warmed up.
  • Ignore the warning signs – Always pay close attention to your dog’s body language, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or overexertion, such as lethargy, drooling, weakness, and slowing down or stopping. Never force your dog to continue running if they don’t want to.

The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital commend you for wanting to give your pet the benefits of regular exercise! If you have any questions, or need a refill on your pet’s parasite prevention medications, don’t hesitate to give us a call.